Agriculture is truly a remarkable industry, weaving together the rhythms of nature with the hard work and dedication of farmers, ranchers and their families. Amidst the idyllic landscapes and the symphony of natural sounds, those who toil in this field find themselves immersed in a lifestyle they wouldn’t trade for the world despite the long hours and inherent risks.

Yet, this beautiful setting can sometimes be isolating, with solitary workdays and the constant threat of injury lurking in the background. Weather fluctuations and market downturns can swiftly turn blessings into burdens, testing the resilience of those who call agriculture their livelihood.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In recent years, I’ve been proud to see the agricultural community work together to destigmatize discussions about mental well-being. Everyone in agriculture, both large and small, has seen highs and lows professionally and personally.

From exhaustive weather conditions, crashing markets, personal isolation or a family tragedy, heartbreak in the heartland is a kinship and a burden shared among many. Despite their shared challenges, farmers and ranchers are often reluctant to acknowledge their struggles, embodying a stoic resilience that can sometimes mask underlying distress.

Did you know multiple studies show the suicide rate in agriculture is two to five times higher than the national average? We must break through this facade of toughness and extend a helping hand to those in need. Recognizing the signs of depression or distress, reaching out with genuine concern, and offering companionship can make an immeasurable difference in someone’s life.

As we observe Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s make a commitment to be there for each other and to recognize the signs of mental health issues. Has a friend or family member become more withdrawn? Is someone facing significant life changes or loss? It’s crucial that we are aware of these signs and know the resources available to use. A simple act of reaching out could lead to a conversation that helps ease someone’s burden.

If you or someone you know is grappling with mental health challenges, there are resources available to offer guidance and assistance. Farm State of Mind, a project developed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, offers great information and support for those in need.

In a profession that thrives on independence and resilience, it’s important to remember that it’s okay not to be okay. By acknowledging our vulnerabilities and sharing our stories, we can create a culture of openness and support within the agricultural community, ensuring that no one faces their struggles alone. Let’s check in on our fellow farmers, share our experiences and stand together in solidarity, knowing that strength lies in our willingness to support one another through life’s highs and lows.